NOVEMBER 2005WHO OWNS THE FISH?This issue heralded the start of the Kahawai Legal Challenge, spearheaded by option4.co.nz – a forerunner to what today is known as Legacy.

Then Minister David Benson-Pope had just announced a reduction in the commercial snapper and kahawai catch (TACC) and proportionally dropped the recreational bag limits. Recreational leaders stated, “Recreational fishers should be very afraid – they are on a hiding to nothing with the proportional ideology the Ministry of Fisheries (now MPI) is inflicting upon them.”

The Ministry, and industry, would like nothing better than to ringfence the recreational catch, which did not allow for any stock savings or population growth. The court case and subsequent debate was all about who ‘owned’ the fish – was it the commercial sector or the public of New Zealand? It was the government’s failure to constrain commercial catches for many of our important shared fisheries that got them in this legal wrangle in the first place, and now they were expecting the public to bail them out while still favouring the commercial sector. The debate continues to this day. 

In the same issue was the news that the Fisheries Minister had reduced the SNA8 (northern part of the North Island’s west coast) recreational bag limit from 15 down to 10, even though 

the Minister had no evidence recreational fishers were catching their allocation. The TACC was also reduced by 10 percent at the same time.

On a more positive note, Peter Jackson was back in the news, having landed a 280kg Pacific bluefin tuna to reclaim the world record he held with his 197kg fish five years previously. Rick Pollock wrote the story, this time based around a Westport trip with Genesis Charters. Tuna featured in Darren Shields’ spearfishing column as well.

Mark Airey reported on the opening of the trout season on Lake Tarawera, where one angler Craig Wilkinson caught a bonus wild boar which he ‘intercepted’ as it attempted to escape landbased hunters by swimming across the lake.

There were plenty of features in this issue. Bay of Islands charter skipper Geoff Stone wrote about broadbill night fishing techniques, while Sam Mossman debated the merits of digital v film cameras. Northland’s Fulton family went on a hunt for big snapper; Mark Kitteridge shared a Fijian popper fishing adventure; myself and Sam Mossman reviewed the latest outboard technology; and Larry Dagg recalled a light tackle Far North snapper trip. Herb Spannagl wrote about the ‘dangers’ of fly fishing and explained how to get a nymph hook out of one’s flesh.
Checking out the classified advertising section, Rogers Boatshop had a Fyran 650 centre console, powered by a Johnson 135HP outboard and fully kitted out, selling for $39,995, a ‘saving’ of $7k. A Viking Explorer II 4.7m fishing kayak, for those anglers who like a little exercise as part of their fishing, cost $1699. Three packs of Mustad flasher rigs were a bargain at $19.95!